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October 20, 2009


To have been a fly on the wall: Graham, Stott & Lewis in 1955

by quaesitor

Have been thoroughly enjoying Roger Steer’s new bio of John Stott – very readable and engaging so far. There are lots of highlights, which i’ll possibly touch on when i review in time. But one moment just jumped out at me and sparked my imagination.

Stott had been rector of All Souls since 1950 (which he took on at just 29). Within just a few years he was leading missions to various universities. But he was also instrumental in arranging for and leading the various big mission events that Billy Graham undertook in the UK. In 1955, Graham was invited to lead a mission at Cambridge by the CICCU, just 3 years after Stott himself had done it.

Billy found the prospect of conducting a full-scale university mission at Cambridge increasingly daunting. ‘I am deeply concerned and in much thought about the mission,’ he told John. ‘I have never felt more inadequate and totally underprepared. As I think over the possibility for messages, I realise how shallow and weak my presentations are. I shall be relying heavily on you and Maurice [Wood].’

When Billy arrived in Cambridge, John arranged for him to talk privately with C.S. Lewis, then a Fellow of Magdalene College. The three of them met in Lewis’s rooms at Magdalene and spent an hour or so together.

‘I was afraid I would be intimidated by Lewis,’ Billy later admitted, ‘but I was relieved to find that he immediately put me at ease. I found him to be not only intelligent and witty but also gentle and gracious. He seemed genuinely interested in our meetings.’

‘You know,’ Lewis said to Billy as they parted, ‘you have many critics, but I have never met one of your critics who knows you personally.’

INSIDE STORY – The Life of John Stott, Roger Steer (IVP, 2009), pp103-104

ASLP JRWS cs_lewis_strong_1 billy-1

What a fascinating moment in 20th Century Christian history. Arguably 3 of the most influential Protestant voices of the century meeting together in one room. Oh to have been a fly on the wall for those hours.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 20 2009

    Thanks, Mark! David Pickard also mentioned this biography to me recently, and now I think I shall purchase it… Uncle John has been and will continue to be an influence on my ministry as well as for countless thousands…

  2. drew wolff
    Oct 20 2009

    Reading it now!!!

  3. Oct 22 2009

    Sounds like a good book to read and I love the story. I’m always confused by those who say that they get fed up with C.S. Lewis. Like John Stott he still is as relevant as he ever way. Great minds think alike indeed.

  4. Dave K
    Oct 28 2009

    they probably just talked about the weather. It’d be a big disappointment!

    • Oct 30 2009

      i think I’d enjoy their take even on the weather, though


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